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Uusimaa border closure will not be extended, govt source tells Yle

Restrictions on movement to and from Uusimaa will end 19 April unless government asks for an extension.

Poliisin tiesulku Myrskylässä 31. maaliskuuta 2020
File photo of police chekpoint in Eastern Uusimaa municipality of Myrskylä on 31 March, 2020 Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva
Yle News

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and officials from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) will not seek to extend the period of travel restrictions imposed on Uusimaa beyond Sunday 19 April, a government source has told Yle.

According to information given to Yle, the reason is that the rate of Covid-19 infection in Uusimaa no longer differs significantly from that in other regions of Finland.

The Uusimaa border was ordered sealed-off by government on 28 March to prevent the spread of coronavirus to other parts of the country, as the majority of infections have been diagnosed in the southern region.

However, since it was sealed off the increase in the number of infections within Uusimaa has remained stable, while in the Länsi-Pohja hospital district covering Kemi and Tornio, as well as in Kainuu, the increase has been much steeper. Länsi-Pohja now has the second-highest number of coronavirus infections in the country (link in Finnish), relative to its population.

The restrictions on movement in and out of Uusimaa were due to expire on Sunday 19 April unless the government asked Parliament for an extension.

The government is scheduled to receive a briefing on the current situation from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on Tuesday afternoon. The assessment will include the latest figures on the rate of coronavirus infection from THL.

Kirsi Varhila, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, told Yle on Sunday afternoon that the briefing would be given to government on Monday, but this was later extended to Tuesday.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin told Yle last week that the border restrictions would probably be lifted next weekend, according to the original plan. She cited the amount of resources needed from authorities to maintain the blockade, among other issues.

Uusimaa is home to some 1.7 million people and includes three of Finland's four largest cities: Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa. Most individuals have not been allowed in or out of the region without a strictly controlled, valid reason since 28 March.

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